Appeals court upholds Cedar Rapids man's conviction for strangling his neighbor

Powers was found guilty of first-degree murder in Nov. 2012

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The Iowa Court of Appeals denied an appeal Wednesday for a Cedar Rapids man convicted of strangling and killing his elderly neighbor in 2010, ruling there was substantial evidence of the crime and the trial judge didn’t abuse her discretion regarding jury deliberation time.

Jerome Power, 50, was found guilty of first-degree murder Nov. 20, 2012 for the strangulation death of his neighbor Doris Bevins, 68, of Cedar Rapids, on Sept. 19, 2010. Power, who poured a cup of water on his attorney’s head during the trial, was sentenced to life in prison.

Power, in the appeal, doesn’t admit to killing Bevins but argued “the attacker” didn’t act deliberately with premeditation – it was “spur of the moment,” according to the appeal. He states Bevins being strangled with pajama pants, an unlikely murder weapon, shows a lack of forethought.

The state contends that deliberation and premeditation doesn’t have to exist for any length of time and using pajama pants to strangle someone could not be unintentional or have a lawful purpose.

“The state’s evidence did not leave much room for the jury to wonder ‘whodunit,’” the opinion stated.

Bevins’ door was deadbolted when officers arrived and after breaking a window to gain access, they found Power inside hiding by an entry door, according to testimony.

Power also claimed the trial court abused its discretion of giving the “Allen” charge to jurors who after nine hours of deliberating said they hadn’t reached a unanimous verdict. The charge encourages the jurors to go back and try to reach a unanimous verdict.

Power in the appeal claims the instruction was “coercive.”

According to the opinion, the supplemental instruction given by the judge “encouraged thoughtful consideration of all viewpoints before forming individual judgments.”

l Comments: (319) 398-8318;

l Comments: (319) 398-8318;

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